During my first pregnancy, I was convinced all the discomfort would go away a week or two postpartum.
Oh, how incredibly naive was I?!
Postpartum is a whole ‘nother ball game, and no one prepares you for it.
Everyone has heard about postpartum depression, but there is SO much more going on with your body that no one prepares you for.
I was SHOCKED. Truly.
So, not to scare you, but I don’t want you to be as unprepared as I was during my postpartum healing process.
Here are the 17 things I wish I knew about my postpartum body, with tips on how to feel better and have a smoother postpartum recovery.
Also, be aware this is completely based on my own pregnancy and postpartum journey.
You should always consult a doctor, especially if you are dealing with postpartum depression (or any extreme pain or discomfort.)
What No One Tells You About Your Postpartum Body
Recovery Looks Different For Everyone
Your postpartum recovery and journey will be completely unique to YOU.
I was seeing so many images and videos online of moms who ‘bounced back’ almost immediately after giving birth.
They had their bangin’ body, were cheerful, and were in the gym working on their fitness what seemed like two weeks after giving birth!
That was not my reality. And it’s not the reality of the majority of new moms.
Although many consider postpartum to be six weeks long, I didn’t feel like ‘myself’ until about the six-month mark.
This is all to say, stop comparing yourself to others!!
Your journey is YOUR own. There is no rush to ‘bounce back.’ Healing takes time and you’ll have good days and bad days.
It’s important not to rush your postpartum recovery with unrealistic expectations.
I was very fatigued, and my energy was nonexistent, but I knew moms who were (at least on the outside looking in) kicking ass. Seeing that made me feel bad about myself and added to the unnecessary stress and pain I was putting on my body.
Seriously. GO EASY ON YOURSELF.
You just created life. It will take time to feel like yourself again, and rushing it will just make you feel worse about yourself.
Which brings me to…
Your Body Image Won’t Be Great
This is another issue that comes from comparisons.
Whether you’re comparing yourself to social media moms or your past self, you may look in the mirror and not like what you see.
There will be a lot of water retention, you will feel pressure to ‘bounce back,’ and don’t get me started on the loose skin.
But this is all NATURAL.
I need you to understand you may be judging yourself and your body but you just created a miracle.
Seriously. Be gentle with yourself during this time.
Be very, very, very mindful of your inner dialogue. Limit your exposure to negativity, especially from yourself.
If you experience postpartum depression especially, your mind will be going to dark places.
Be very mindful of what you say to yourself and the media you consuming during this time.
And don’t be scared to speak to a professional if you are struggling with your body image.
I know it’s hard to believe, but delivering a small human through your body can cause some damage.
Many of us experience tearing during the process, with some of us needing stitches.
So, let’s discuss what helped me deal with the sting after giving birth:
- Essential items: These are the things that my nurse suggested and my hospital provided: A peri bottle filled with warm water, TUCKS Witch Hazel Cooling Pads, and Dermoplast Pain Relieving Spray.
- Staying hydrated: Drinking lots of water can help dilute your urine and reduce its acidity, making it less painful when you pee. Also, consider researching which foods help lower urine acidity.
- Maintaining hygiene: Try to change your pads or disposable underwear as often as possible for a quicker recovery and to prevent dryness and tearing.
To help you navigate postpartum vaginal recovery, here’s my routine:
- Rinse: Fill your peri bottle with lukewarm water and rinse your vaginal area while peeing and afterward.
- Spray: Apply Dermoplast Pain Relieving Spray directly to the vaginal area as needed to alleviate pain.
- Line: Place 4-5 TUCKS Witch Hazel Cooling Pads on your maxi pad or disposable underwear, right where your vaginal area will rest.
- Optional: If you’re using maxi pads, consider investing in knit panties to help secure the pad and prevent leakages.
I hope these tips help you through your postpartum journey. Just remember, we’re all moms here, and we’re stronger together. Hang in there!
And So Do Bowel Movements!
Oh, let me tell you, going #2 can feel like a real challenge, especially if you’ve been pushing for hours during labor. Trust me, it can be even more difficult than going #1!
As a mom, I know it’s not easy dealing with this, but I managed to get through it, and so can you. Here’s what helped me:
- Eating: Consuming high-fiber foods becomes a priority at this point. They can help with the constipation you’re likely to experience.
- Using: When I was at the hospital, they prescribed me some stool softeners, and believe me, they were a lifesaver when things got tough!
- Avoiding: Do your best to stay away from foods that can make going to the bathroom harder. For me, this included items on the BRAT diet: bananas, rice, apples, and toast.
Remember, we’re all in this together, and you’re not alone when it comes to postpartum challenges. We can get through it, one step at a time.
Back Pain Is Real
And just when you think you’ve got enough on your plate, here comes the back pain. You might have thought that with the baby out, the weight’s off your spine. But, oh no, the backaches continue.
Having been there, I can tell you that this postpartum back pain sneaks up on you, especially after long feeding sessions or simply carrying your little bundle around. It’s a whole new kind of discomfort.
But, as with everything postpartum, I found my ways to cope. Here’s what worked for me:
- Stretching: A few gentle stretches in the morning made a world of difference. Think about it like setting the tone for the day, but for your back.
- Lifting: Proper technique is everything. When I lifted my baby, I made sure to use my legs more than my back. A small change, but trust me, your spine will thank you.
- Sleeping: Investing in a supportive mattress was crucial. It’s where you’ll be spending a lot of time, after all. I also found that sleeping on my side with a pillow between my knees really helped align everything.
- Avoiding: Those stylish heels in my closet? They had to wait. For now, comfort came first. Supportive flats or sneakers made all the difference.
- Navigating this back pain journey post-birth was a challenge, but with a bit of adjustment and self-care, it became manageable.
Just remember, it’s okay to prioritize yourself. After all, a comfortable mom makes for a happier baby. We’re in this together!
Sitting… Is A Struggle
We all know that after giving birth, sitting can be quite painful, especially if you’re dealing with hemorrhoids on top of everything else.
It’s important to address this because postpartum life often involves a lot of sitting, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Let me share with you some strategies I found helpful during this time:
- Medication: You have the option to get pain relief medication prescribed by your doctor. Just be sure to ask if it’s safe to take while breastfeeding, as some medications can cross into breast milk.
- Soothing remedies: I cannot emphasize enough how helpful TUCKS witch hazel pads and Dermoplast anesthetic spray were for me. They helped soothe and cool the burning sensation, and I don’t think I could have endured those first few weeks without them!
- Avoiding pressure: Try to minimize the pressure on your sensitive areas as much as possible. You can lay down or sit with your knees propped up if that’s more comfortable for you.
- Investing in a good postpartum pillow: If you plan on nursing, a quality postpartum pillow can make all the difference. You’ll likely be sitting quite a bit during the first few weeks due to cluster feeding and growth spurts. I found this one to be the most comfortable. It’s a memory foam pillow that conforms to your natural bottom, allowing you to sit on your sit bones and avoid putting pressure on your tailbone and perineum. Plus, it’s adorable!
Remember, not every pillow will work for everyone, but you won’t know until you give it a try. I hope these tips help make your postpartum sitting experience a bit more comfortable!
Your Boobs Look Great… But Feel Horrible
Once I gave birth, I was surprised by how quickly my breasts grew! However, they needed extra care and attention, especially during breastfeeding.
Here are a few tips on preventing mastitis, maintaining milk supply, and avoiding leaky and cracked nipples:
- Pump often. Start pumping as soon as possible and do it frequently, especially if your breasts feel hard to the touch. Pumping can also increase your milk supply.
- Apply nipple cream. I recommend using nipple cream after every feeding for the first month, or until you and your baby have a proper latch. Opt for non-lanolin-based creams to reduce the chances of thrush.
- Use helpful accessories. Nipple shields and Lansinoh Soothies can be a lifesaver when there is nipple damage. Trust me, nursing pads are essential too; they’ll help protect your clothes from milk stains when you leak.
- Master the latch. Achieving the right latch can greatly affect your breastfeeding success and nipple comfort. If your baby is tongue or lip tied, it may take more effort to teach them, but don’t worry – a little patience will do wonders.
Remember, we’re in this together, fellow moms! Practice and patience will help make breastfeeding an enjoyable experience for both you and your baby.
I know it’s surprising, but contractions don’t just vanish once the baby is delivered. Your uterus needs to return to its pre-pregnancy shape, and these contractions help it achieve that.
They often happen during breastfeeding or pumping and can be painful, but the good news is they subside as your uterus shrinks.
Here’s what I found to be helpful:
- Relax: Getting comfy during breastfeeding or pumping made a difference for me. Ensure you’re as comfortable as possible.
- Apply: At the hospital, they provide heat packs to alleviate the pain of uterine contractions. Give them a try!
- Use: Pain relievers can be useful too. Just remember to consult your doctor, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
Keep going, fellow moms. We’ve got this!
Your Core Strength Is GONE
I remember one day, after getting out of bed and taking a few steps, experiencing an unusual feeling in my core area.
My uterus was still adjusting back to its normal size, and my abs had likely shifted due to pregnancy, possibly experiencing Diastasis Recti. It felt as if gravity was tugging at my insides!
To help relieve the discomfort and improve my core, here’s what I did:
- Wearing support: A waist belt I had previously bought turned out to be a lifesaver. It instantly helped my stomach feel more normal. However, consistently wearing it for over two months became a challenge.
- Eating right: A healthy diet plays a significant role in returning your core to its pre-pregnancy state. Plus, it helps avoid any extra abdominal discomfort, so try to stay away from greasy, heavy foods.
- Exercising with caution: Make sure to check with your doctor at your 6-week postpartum visit before starting any exercise. If you’re diagnosed with Diastasis Recti, some exercises, like crunches, could worsen your condition. Your doctor can provide guidance on the appropriate exercises for your specific situation.
Stretch Marks, Stretch Marks, Stretch Marks!
Somehow, I only developed stretch marks on my breasts during pregnancy. I felt relieved since they didn’t look too awful.
However, after giving birth and experiencing rapid breast growth, the stretch marks became more noticeable, and I wish I had known in advance how to prevent it from worsening.
So, here’s what I would have done differently:
- Apply: Pumping can stretch your breasts and potentially lead to stretch marks. Applying a natural lubricant like coconut oil before pumping can make a difference.
- Use: Continuing to use stretch mark preventative oils or creams after giving birth can also help in minimizing their appearance.
- Relax: Most importantly, remember that stretch marks are a normal response to rapid growth, and everyone gets them in one way or another. Some skin types may be more prone to them, but at the end of the day, they are a sign of motherhood.
So don’t stress too much about them – they are your “momma stripes,” and there’s no reason to be ashamed. Embrace them as a symbol of solidarity among mothers!
Weight Loss Will Be A Slooooooow Process
I had been told during my pregnancy not to worry about the weight because “it’ll all come off anyway!”
But once I had given birth and started asking around about losing weight, suddenly the story changed to “not everyone loses their baby weight” and “it could take years.”
This was not what I expected, especially since I was exclusively breastfeeding!
The truth is that weight loss after pregnancy is not an overnight process, and you’ll need patience. The main reason for shedding pounds is consuming fewer calories than what’s burned through breastfeeding.
Now, balancing hunger and calorie intake while breastfeeding is not a walk in the park, given the myriad of incorrect information often shared with new moms.
In my experience, I remained 20 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight for six weeks. I had been told to consume fatty foods to produce richer milk, which led me to overeat. The turning point came when I adjusted my diet, still ensuring my calorie intake was enough for milk production, and I lost 5 pounds in a week!
Here are some tips to help speed up the weight loss process:
- Eat wisely. What you choose to eat plays a significant role in returning to your pre-pregnancy weight. Avoid unhealthy fast foods, even though they might seem like an easy choice when you’re short on time. Focus on having a nutritious and filling breakfast to prevent overeating later in the day. Smart snacking is also essential, so opt for healthier options instead of empty calories from sugary or salty treats.
- Stay hydrated. Keeping up with your water intake not only supports breast milk production but also helps you differentiate between hunger and thirst. It’s common to feel extremely thirsty when breastfeeding, and sometimes we mistake that for hunger.
- Get moving. Exercise after getting your doctor’s approval. If hitting the gym isn’t feasible, integrate baby care activities into your workout. For instance, you could do squats or lunges while carrying the baby, perform glute-squeezing exercises while nursing, or take a power walk with your baby in a stroller. Be creative to make sure you stay active!
- Rest up. Adequate rest is essential, even if it seems impossible. Try the “baby sleeps, mommy sleeps” approach if you can, and set aside housework until your baby sleeps better at night. A lack of sleep might lead to overeating.
In summary, losing weight after pregnancy is a gradual process but following a balanced diet, staying hydrated, exercising, and getting enough rest can help you achieve your goals. As a fellow mom, I encourage you to be patient and take it one step at a time!
Your Mood, Attitude, And Emotions All Change
Before I became a mom, I envisioned the postpartum period as one filled with pure joy, baby cuddles, and perhaps a sprinkle of exhaustion.
What I didn’t anticipate was the emotional tidal wave that would accompany it. The highs were euphoric, but the lows? They sometimes felt like an abyss.
After childbirth, the body undergoes a rapid drop in hormones. Pair that with the demands of caring for a newborn, sleep deprivation, and societal pressures, and it’s no wonder many of us feel like we’re on an emotional seesaw.
Here’s what I experienced and what might resonate with many new moms:
- Baby Blues: A few days after giving birth, I found myself crying at the drop of a hat. A sad commercial? Tears. Baby’s tiny socks? More tears. These ‘baby blues’ are common, but for me, they faded after a couple of weeks.
- Anxiety: The weight of responsibility can be overwhelming. I found myself constantly checking if my baby was breathing or worrying about her feeding schedule.
- Irritability: With sleep playing hide and seek, it was easier for me to snap at minor annoyances. I had to remind myself that it’s okay and it wasn’t anyone’s fault.
- Mood Shifts: Some days, I felt like I was on top of the world. Other days, I felt like the world was on top of me.
What helped me navigate these mood shifts?
- Communication: I spoke to my partner, family, and friends about how I felt. Their support and understanding provided much-needed solace.
- Self-care: Even if it was just a five-minute break, taking time for myself helped me recharge both mentally and emotionally.
- Seeking Help: When I felt like my mood changes were more than just the typical baby blues, I sought professional help. It’s crucial to remember there’s no shame in seeking therapy or counseling.
- Acceptance: Recognizing and accepting that mood fluctuations are a natural part of the postpartum journey was half the battle won.
- It’s essential to understand that our bodies and minds undergo tremendous change after childbirth. And while it’s a beautiful journey, it’s also perfectly okay to feel overwhelmed. Remember, every mother’s experience is unique. With time, patience, and support, we can navigate these emotional waves. You’re not alone in this, and it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.
Veins, Veins, Veins
I’d heard about deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in passing, perhaps during an airplane safety video about long-haul flights.
But I was genuinely surprised when I learned it’s something we need to be watchful for postpartum. It’s one of those things you never expect until it’s right at your doorstep.
For those unfamiliar, DVT is when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the legs. And the postpartum period, with all its hormonal surges and changes, can increase the risk.
Having faced the concern myself, I made a few choices to keep DVT at bay. Here’s what worked for me:
- Moving: I tried to move my legs frequently, especially if I found myself sitting for long periods. Little ankle rotations or calf stretches made a difference.
- Hydrating: Drinking enough water throughout the day was essential. It not only kept me refreshed but also aided in better blood circulation.
- Compression: On my doctor’s advice, I wore compression stockings. They might not be the height of fashion, but they certainly helped improve blood flow in my legs.
- Avoiding: Long periods of immobility were a no-no. If I was on a long car ride or even binging a TV show, I made it a point to take breaks and walk around.
Deep vein thrombosis might sound intimidating, but with the right precautions and staying informed, it’s something we can navigate safely.
You’ll Be Sticky And Smelly
Oh, how I wish someone had warned me about this! Post-delivery sweating caught me by surprise—it turns out that about 29% of women go through the same experience after giving birth.
I noticed a significant increase in my perspiration levels when I started breastfeeding my little one exclusively.
After doing some research, I discovered why this happens. When your body goes back to its non-pregnant state, your hormone levels adjust, causing low estrogen levels.
This, in turn, affects your body temperature regulation, leading to sweating. Plus, it helps eliminate the excess fluid you retained during pregnancy.
While we can’t completely avoid postpartum sweating, we can make it more manageable. Here are some steps that worked for me:
- Stay cool: Create a comfortable environment by using a fan, air conditioner, or opening a window to help regulate your body temperature.
- Hydrate: Drinking water not only prevents dehydration but also aids in recovery as your body sheds excess fluids.
- Dress wisely: Opt for light, breathable clothing, preferably made from natural fibers. Synthetic fabrics like polyester can make you even more uncomfortable.
- Avoid triggers: Stay away from spicy or hot foods, caffeine, and alcohol, as they can exacerbate the sweating. If you’re also breastfeeding, it’s essential to limit caffeine and alcohol intake anyway.
- Practice self-care: A little relaxation, healthy eating, and exercise can go a long way in helping your body recover.
- Maintain good hygiene: Shower as often as you can, but if that’s not possible, even a quick wash of your underarms can offer relief.
- Use deodorant: This one is self-explanatory! Just make sure to apply it, especially if the sweating bothers you.
Motherhood is a challenging journey, and every little bit of advice can be helpful. I hope this information makes your post-delivery experience just a tad bit easier!
Just when I thought I’d experienced all the postpartum surprises, I woke up drenched in the middle of the night. Nope, I hadn’t spilled water on myself. These were the infamous night sweats everyone whispered about but never really mentioned.
Honestly, I was taken aback. Who knew that after giving birth, our bodies would decide to mimic a mini sauna while we’re trying to catch some much-needed Z’s? The culprit? Hormonal shifts and our bodies working overtime to shed excess fluids.
Navigating through these nocturnal perspirations was another layer to my postpartum journey, but here’s what helped me keep cool:
- Breathable Bedding: I swapped out my regular sheets for lighter, more breathable cotton ones. It made those nights a tad more bearable.
- Hydrating: With all that sweating, I made sure to keep a bottle of water by my bedside. Hydration is key, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
- Layering: Instead of one thick blanket, I used a couple of thinner ones. This way, I could easily adjust the layers based on how hot or cold I felt.
- Avoiding: Spicy foods and caffeine right before bedtime became a no-go for me. They only seemed to rev up the internal thermostat.
Yes, night sweats can be a bit of a dampener (pun intended), but remember, it’s just another phase in this beautiful journey of motherhood. With a few tweaks and a lot of patience, we can make it through
You Will Feel Like You’re On Your Period FOREVER
My experience involved bleeding for up to 11 weeks on and off after giving birth. It’s important to remember that each person’s experience is different, but postpartum bleeding is normal. There are a few tips to help manage and heal during this time.
- Utilize. Mesh underwear might not be the most fashionable choice, but they offer better leakage protection compared to regular pads. If you’re not a fan of mesh underwear, heavy pads can be a useful alternative.
- Limit. Try not to take on too many household chores or carry heavy loads. Excessive physical activity can increase bleeding or prolong your recovery. Even something as simple as running up stairs could affect your healing process.
- Rest. Prioritize resting and focusing on your baby and yourself. Don’t worry about housework – it will still be there when you’re ready to tackle it again.
Your Sex Drive May Take A Nose-Dive
Before baby, intimacy might’ve been a spontaneous and frequent activity. Post-baby? Things can change, and that’s a reality many new moms, including myself, grapple with.
After childbirth, amidst the diaper changes, sleepless nights, and hormonal shifts, intimacy might be the last thing on your mind. And if you’re feeling that way, trust me, you’re not alone.
Here’s what I experienced:
- Decreased Libido: With so much focus on the baby and recovery, it’s not unusual for your sex drive to be in hibernation mode.
- Physical Discomfort: After delivery, whether it was vaginal or via C-section, the body needs time to heal. Jumping back into intimate activities might not only be painful but could also be mentally daunting.
- Emotional Changes: The blend of fatigue, hormonal changes, and new responsibilities can sometimes make intimacy feel like another task on the checklist rather than a passionate moment.
- Self-image: With the body undergoing so many changes, it’s natural to feel a little out of sync with your self-image, which can influence intimacy.
So, how did I navigate through this intimacy hiatus?
- Open Dialogue: I spoke with my partner about how I felt. This open communication ensured we were on the same page, and there was no undue pressure.
- Patience: Recognizing that it’s okay to give my body and mind the time they needed was pivotal. It’s not a race, and it’s perfectly okay to wait until you genuinely feel ready.
- Seek Medical Advice: When I had concerns about physical discomfort, I consulted with my healthcare provider. They offered valuable insights and suggestions to ease back into intimacy.
- Self-Love: Embracing and accepting my postpartum body was a journey in itself. Remembering that it carried and birthed a life helped me appreciate it even more.
A decline in sex drive post-childbirth is completely natural, and it’s essential to move at a pace that feels right for you.
Every individual’s journey is unique, and there’s no set timeline for when things should return to “normal.” After all, it’s about quality, not quantity.
Remember to be kind to yourself and prioritize open communication with your partner. We’re navigating this new chapter together, one day at a time.
My Hair Fell Out In Clumps
So, I have to tell you about something that happened to me a few months after giving birth, and it might happen to you as well! Surprisingly, my hair started falling out in clumps, and it was a bit overwhelming.
But don’t worry, it turns out this is quite common and is known as telogen effluvium, which is excessive hair loss after delivery.
During pregnancy, our hair tends to be thicker and more luscious, all thanks to those hormones. However, once we deliver, our bodies start getting back to normal, and the hormones regulate.
So, the hair that was in the resting phase during pregnancy begins to fall out.
This will be a shock and your self-esteem may take a toll, but I promise, your hair will regrow, usually within 6-12 months.
To cope with this temporary hair loss, here are some tips I found really helpful:
- Be gentle: Use hair-friendly products, like silica and biotin shampoo, to minimize hair loss. Your hair is more sensitive during this time, so make sure to treat it kindly.
- Limit damage: Try to avoid things that can dry out your hair, like heat treatments and excessive showers. Use the cool setting when drying your hair and avoid brushing it when it’s wet with a fine-tooth comb.
- Avoid strain: Keep away from hairstyles that pull on your hair, like pigtails, weaves, braids, and cornrows. Let your hair breathe and recover.
- Eat well: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help protect your hair follicles and promote growth. Flavonoids and antioxidants are your best friends!
- Consider supplements: Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any supplement. They may recommend a combination of vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin B complex, Biotin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Zinc, to help rejuvenate your hair.
- Ride it out: Remember, hair loss is normal after giving birth! Don’t stress about it too much, as your newborn probably keeps you busy enough. If, however, you feel the hair loss is excessive or lasts longer than 6 months, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. It’s always better to be safe and check if there’s an underlying cause, like nutrient deficiency or hormonal imbalance.
It’s important to stay patient and know that this hair loss after delivery is temporary. We’re all in this together, and it’s just another part of the incredible journey of motherhood!
You can definitely anticipate various body changes after giving birth. It’s important to remember that your body has just experienced the intense process of childbirth, and it will take some time for things to return to normal.
Being aware of what to expect can make a huge difference in helping you feel more prepared and less overwhelmed during this period. I wish I had read more about the challenges faced during the first month as a new mom, as it was both emotionally and physically draining for me. Every change came like an unexpected wave!
But, my fellow mommas, don’t worry – we’re all in this together! The process might be difficult at times, but it’s absolutely worth it when you see the precious gift that your little one brings amidst all the turmoil.
Did I forget something? I would love to hear your thoughts, tips, and coping strategies in the comment section below.
Remember, the more we know, the better we can support one another on this beautiful journey!